Here's today's Booking Through Thursday question:
Writing guides, grammar books, punctuation how-tos . . . do you read them? Not read them? How many writing books, grammar books, dictionaries–if any–do you have in your library?
I have a couple of old stand-by reference books that I use, mostly The Elements of Style by Strunk and White and The Chicago Manual of Style. But I don't refer to them that often, really. Maybe I need to check in with them a little more!
I also hear a lot of good things about Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss, which is supposedly an entertaining book.
This Booking Through Thursday question is now prompting a confession I have to make. I'm addicted to books about writing. I am married to a writer, and I write some, too. So it's not entirely inappropriate. But I think I've carried it a bit too far. I'll list a few of my favorites here. And this is just a sample, not the whole writing reference library. Okay, here goes:
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott. I love Lamott's personal style, and I especially like the anecdote that inspired the book's title--I use it to inspire myself when I'm stuck, and my kids when they have a particularly troublesome homework assignment.
Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, by Natalie Goldberg. Goldberg is a Zen Buddhist and her approach to writing is both accessible and reflects her beliefs.
Writing To Learn, by William Zinsser. A great reference if you're writing non-fiction.
The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers, by John Gardner. The subtitle says it all. Gardner's style is very readable.
The Fiction Writer's Silent Partner, by Martin Roth. This is a sort of cheesy book put out by Writer's Digest but there's nothing better to get you unstuck.
Backwards & Forwards: A Technical Manual for Reading Plays, by David Ball. This is really a book about reading plays, but it really helps you understand dramatic structure, which is a must for any kind of fiction writing, not just plays and screenplays.
Okay, I could go on and on. Scary, really. I also love a bunch of memoirs about writing, including Annie Dillard's The Writing Life, Louise Erdrich's Blue Jay's Dance, and then there are all those great books out there about books and reading...